Looking Back, Looking Ahead: Anthropologists Reflect on the Struggle for Boycott and a Half-Century of Israeli Occupation

June 2017 marks fifty years since the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip, a watershed event that consolidated and extended the 1948 ethnic cleansing of Palestine. After a half century of deepening colonization and apartheid, the “two state solution” that has long been proposed as a way to resolve the conflict appears more elusive than ever.

June 2017 also marks the one-year anniversary of the narrow defeat of the resolution in the American Anthropological Association (AAA) to boycott Israeli academic institutions. The vote was the culmination of years of vigorous debate among anthropologists about the best way for our discipline and professional association to support justice in Palestine and express solidarity with the Palestinian people.

Anthropologists for the Boycott of Israeli Academic Institutions presents a series of reflections by our colleagues to commemorate this solemn occasion:

J. Kēhaulani Kauanui explains why “Israel’s occupation of Palestinian territory must be understood as part of the process of settler colonialism

Rhoda Kanaaneh‘s “Insecure Exchanges” traces links between struggles for racial justice in Palestine and the US

Les Field on “Why Jewish Anthropologists Should Support the Boycott

Glenn Bowman shares “Reflections on 34 Years of Field Research in the Israeli Occupied Territories

Ahmed Kanna emphasizes the importance of linking #Anthroboycott to struggles against capitalism

Nikolas Kosmatopoulos discusses opportunities for solidarity with Palestine beyond the boycott, especially at sea

Dan Segal reflects on last year’s AAA boycott vote in “How We Came So Close, and Why Victory is in Sight

Roberto J. González takes the long view in “The Patience of Activism


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Fact Sheet: Israel’s Ongoing Violence Against Palestinian Academia

Since the narrow defeat of the AAA Resolution 100 days ago, the Israeli state has intensified its flagrant violations of Palestinians’ basic human rights, including attacks on academic freedom. These routine violations include:

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Webinar on Upcoming AAA Vote to Boycott Israeli Academic Institutions


The American Anthropological Association will vote on the boycott of Israeli academic institutions from April 15 to May 31 by electronic ballot. Do you have questions about the proposed resolution? Looking for information about what a boycott would entail? Want to find out how the boycott would affect you and/or your university?

Anthropologists for the Boycott of Academic Institutions invites you to a one-hour webinar on the boycott. Tune in to a live broadcast on Thursday, March 3, 12-1pm EST, where we will present the case for the boycott and answer all of your questions.


View Webinar Online:




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Myths and Facts About the Boycott of Israeli Academic Institutions [updated]

[updated April 25, 2016]

Myth #1: The boycott prevents Israeli and U.S. scholars from working together.

Fact: The boycott is not directed at individuals; it is directed at the institutions in which they work. It does not deny Israeli scholars the right to attend conferences (including the AAA meetings), speak at or visit U.S. universities, or publish their work in AAA publications. Nor will boycott prevent U.S. scholars from traveling to Israel. Individual AAA members will remain free to decide whether and how to implement the boycott on their own. The claim that the boycott resolution will prevent or discourage scholars from writing letters of recommendation for students or colleagues is false.

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Engaged Anthropology: The AAA’s Task Force Report on Israel/Palestine

[this essay originally appeared on Allegra Lab]

Photo by Rawan Nassrallah (Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 3.0)

by Lori Allen & Ajantha Subramanian

On 8 October 2015, Israeli security forces brutally beat and arrested two students of Birzeit University, a major Palestinian university in the West Bank. In response, Birzeit issued an appeal to academic and human rights institutions to speak out against the crimes of the Israeli occupation.

The university’s appeal is one of hundreds coming in the wake of Israeli actions that violate Palestinians’ academic freedom and human rights inside the occupied territories, as well as in Israel, where Palestinians account for 20% of the citizenry. For decades, Palestinian academics and human rights advocates have asked their colleagues in the West and elsewhere to stand with them against Israel’s systematic violations of Palestinian rights, which include the arrest and arbitrary imprisonment of students, preventing students from getting to school, violent raids of university campuses, and censoring and repressing student political expression.

Now, an increasing number of academics, including anthropologists, have heard these calls and are deliberating over how to respond to their Palestinian colleagues’ requests for support.

On 5 October 2015, the American Anthropological Association’s Task Force on Israel/Palestine released the final report it had been tasked to undertake by the AAA Executive Board in 2014. The Task Force was charged with developing recommendations for addressing the issues raised by the situation in Israel/Palestine. Composed of scholars with expertise in a wide range of geographic and topical areas, Task Force members conducted some 120 interviews over the past year, many with anthropologists of the region. In addition, three members undertook a fact-finding trip to Israel/Palestine in May 2015 and met with Palestinian and Israeli scholars throughout Israel and the occupied Palestinian territory (excluding the Gaza Strip, which is currently impossible to reach due to Israeli restrictions).

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Jewish Voice for Peace Endorses Anthropology Boycott Resolution!

[This post originally appeared on the Jewish Voice for Peace website]


The American Anthropological Association will be discussing and voting on a resolution to boycott Israeli academic institutions at their November meeting. Jewish Voice for Peace is proud to endorse this resolution and thanks its authors for its introduction. Continue reading

Everything You Need to Run an Anthropology Boycott Teach-In

Have you signed on to the boycott of Israeli academic institutions and want to encourage your colleagues to do the same?

Holding a teach‐in on the boycott in your department can be an easy, tremendously effective way to encourage scholars to take a stand and support the boycott, and to advocate for the American Anthropological Association to do the same.

Anthropologists for the Boycott of Israeli Academic Institutions has prepared a packet with all of the resources you need to start such a discussion in your department. The packet includes names and contact information for potential guest speakers, lists of possible discussion topics and primers, tips for organizing, and advice on dealing with any push-back.

The teach-in packet can be downloaded here.

We are also here to help and can work with you in planning and running your teach‐in. You can contact us at anthroboycott@gmail.com.

[Le document est aussi disponible en français]

Boycotting Israel — Advice for Scholars

Anthropologists for the Boycott of Israeli Academic Institutions has released “Boycotting Israeli Academic Institutions — Advice for Anthropologists,” a 5-page guide to help scholars make informed judgments in implementing the boycott.

We are issuing this document to mark two anniversaries this week: one year ago, Israel began a 51-day onslaught against the Gaza Strip that inflicted unprecedented death, injury, and destruction upon the 1.8 million Palestinians living in the besieged territory. The attack galvanized international condemnation of Israel and bolstered support for the worldwide movement for boycotts, divestment, and sanctions (BDS), launched a decade ago.

Over 1,100 anthropologists have pledged so far to boycott Israeli academic institutions. Through their actions, anthropologists can show that the academic boycott is not only a matter of ethical and political urgency, but is feasible and indeed already being put into practice.

The academic boycott applies to Israeli academic institutions but not to Israeli scholars in their individual capacity. Accordingly, the advice published today emphasizes practical and flexible approaches in implementing the boycott. By outlining general principles and concrete examples, this document will empower scholars in translating the boycott into a reality. This document draws on July 2014 guidelines issued by the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic & Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI) and is also inspired by the American Anthropological Association’s Principles of Professional Responsibility.

[Le document est aussi disponible en français]